Mixed response to contract rearing prospects in north-west

There was mixed reaction among north-west farmers to proposed opportunities for contract rearing heifer calves from the dairy industry, following a recent information evening in Co. Leitrim.

The event – held at The Bush Hotel in Carrick-On-Shannon last Thursday night (September 27) – attracted up to 170 farmers, with some appearing very interested in getting involved and others remaining skeptical.

A significant number of young farmers were notably in attendance.

The event was organised by Teagasc advisor for Sligo and Leitrim, Tom Coll.

Coll explained to the attendees that while it may suit some farmers – it is not suitable for all.

He described it as “simply an additional option” for drystock farmers.

Reduced Labour

Commenting on the benefits of contract rearing, Des Morrison, the chairperson of the Livestock Committee at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), outlined that the option “can be beneficial” to both parties involved.

He highlighted that the security of income for the host is an attractive reason for drystock farmers to get involved.

Morrison also stressed that the reduced labour of rearing replacement heifers will benefit the dairy farmer.

You have the same level of income coming in every month and you have a fair idea what your costs are going to be.

He pointed out that the low level of capital investment required to get involved is an attraction – particularly to younger farmers.

“Young farmers that have recently inherited land and are asset rich, but cash poor, can generate an income from this system without borrowing a massive amount of money,” concluded Morrison.